Mahesh Bhupathi on Friday couldn’t hide his frustration and admitted that the Indians had failed to seize the opportunities on the opening day of the Davis Cup qualifier against Italy.
Ramkumar Ramanathan failed to capitalise on two break points as world No. 37 Andreas Seppi used all his experience to win the first rubber in one hour 11 minutes.
“When you are playing players who have so much experience and are used to playing at a level, you have to take your chances,” he said of Ramkumar. “I am a firm believer that if you take your chances, you will get rewarded. That’s where the momentum swung.”
The India non-playing captain is now hoping that Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan weave some magic in the doubles to keep them in the hunt.
Last year, India bounced back to defeat China 3-2 from a similar situation and Bhupathi is expecting an encore.
“All of us have played Davis Cup before so we understand the pressure that comes with playing for the country. The job of everybody in the team is to keep all of us relaxed while at the same time we want to win.
“There is no doubt that we are disappointed but tomorrow is another day and stranger things have happened.
“We are not going to rule ourselves out. We will try and win the doubles, we will try and chip away one by one and see what happens,” Bhupathi said.
But how difficult will it be to motivate the players? “We will stay disappointed for an hour. And then Praj (Prajnesh Gunneswaran) and Ram (Ramkumar Ramanathan) will be back at practice. Rohan and Divij are getting ready for their match. We know we have a job at hand.
“Yesterday we had a job, today we have the same job, only it has got a lot harder. We are not the kind to give up because we have all played Davis Cup. We have been there, done that before. I think India has been down 0-2 if you count in the last 15 years, a lot of times. How many times have we come back? I think twice. Once against Brazil and once against China... Now it is up to us to see if we can do it tomorrow,” said the veteran of many a Davis Cup battle.
“The only way to turn the tables is to win the doubles. Win that and the crowd will get excited and I am sure Prajnesh will have some momentum to work with… He is our No. 1…” Prajnesh conceded that Matteo Berrettini was better on the day.
“I started the match badly. First game on both sets I lost serve. That put a lot of pressure on me because he is a good front-runner and has a very good serve. He used that to his advantage.”